Up until recently, in the design world it was mostly just greeting card illustrators who had a (professional) reason to care about Valentine’s Day. Not so anymore, as one V-day staple has started coming in packages possibly even more beautiful than the magical substance they contain.
No, we’re definitely not talking about Edible Arrangements here. Chocolate, specifically in bar form, is the item that has captured our attention. As with many artisanal revivals (beer, coffee, etc.), the world of small-batch chocolatiering has put a premium on design and given artists around the world amazing opportunities.
We dived into the rabbit hole (seriously, so much good chocolate branding out there …) and dug up these companies as our top ten, listed in no particular order. Looking to impress that special someone? Look no further.
We had to put a local first. Tcho, based in San Francisco, has earned its position as the reigning chocolatier of the Bay Area. Its designs, by edenspiekermann, emblematize the region with their admixture of psychedelia and tech.
France has a long, rich history of making quality chocolate, but its packaging has typically ascribed to stringent traditionalism. Marou’s designer, Rice Creative, shatters that mold with the vivid colors and gilt lattices on these wrappers.
What Tcho is to the West Coast of the U.S., Brooklyn-based Mast Brothers is to the East. The chocolatiers themselves, along with their apparently equally crafty friends, handle the design of their wrappers, which employ elegantly old-timey patterns. A real class act.
Cacao is king in Colombia, where Tilín manufactures the good stuff mere kilometers away from where the beans are grown. Isabela Rodrigues produced the company’s stately brand mark and some striking cylindrical packages too.
From across the pond comes Wellington Chocolate Factory—surely the most visually dazzling chocolatiers on the isle since Mr. Wonka himself. They owe their magic to illustration-oriented designer Gina Kiel.
Where would we be without Scharffen Berger? Established in Berkeley, California in 1997, the venerable company is not quite of the same generation as the others listed. Its branding, designed by Barbara Vick, is accordingly a little more toned down, but nevertheless exquisite and highly successful.
Up in Seattle, Theo rocks a far-out style, marked by looping letters and bursts of bright color, conceived by Kitten Chops Design.
A name like “Omnom” tells us two things: this company cannot be much more than five years old, and must have a good sense of humor. The lightheartedness is certainly appreciated—probably especially so in chilly Reykjavik, Iceland, where the company is based—and is well captured by the colorful packaging illustrations, executed by the North South Studio.
9. Casa Bosques
Dipping down to Mexico City, we discover Casa Bosques, which produces some seriously good-looking chocolate whilst rocking a style markedly different from the others. Designed by Savvy Studio, it is spare yet captivating, carrying the air of something marked “top secret.”
Compartés exudes L.A. glamour, from the stylish typeface of its logo to the optical patterns printed on the chocolate itself. For this distinctive branding scheme we have to thank Kyle Poff.